Words: Dylan Murphy
Several acts including clipping. have spoken out against the website.
Yesterday, music Twitter rallied together to voice their anger towards a website called ‘HitPiece’. It comes after a number of acts noticed they were selling their music as NFTs without gaining prior permission. According to their website, HitPiece assures readers that they sell one of one NFTs. However, the backlash online suggests that they have been doing so without consent from artists.
Experimental hip hop group clipping. responded on Twitter saying “We’re looking into what we can do to get it taken down. Fuck this scam shit”.
Speaking over email, Hausu Records’ Colm Cahalane said, “Hausu is a small collective of 6 acts mostly based in Cork, including Arthur Valentine, Actualacid, Automatic Blue, Ghostking is Dead and Drew Hall. We are, admittedly, a small operation – it’s artist-organised above all, and artists keep the rights to their music. Last night, we found that HitPiece.com was selling what they claimed were NFTs representing our songs. We never gave them permission to do this, and it seems to have affected nearly every artist currently on Spotify.
While it looks like HitPiece.com was hurriedly taken down last night, we’re still taking a follow-through on the matter quite seriously – we have issued takedown notices, asked our distributor to step in and do intend to follow-up if our work is still being exploited when they re-launch. In the past, we at least were choosing to not be associated with NFTs at all, but HitPiece changed that. They used the Spotify API to get as much information as possible about artists completely indiscriminately. They claim that what they were doing avoided copyright laws because they weren’t selling our music, just a token representing where our music can be found on the Spotify API. The fact is they used our artwork, names, and photography that we were using on Spotify to create and promote a product we never asked for. They also claimed that “Artists [would] provide NFT owners access and experiences” and that “Each time an artist’s NFT is purchased or sold, a royalty from each transaction is accounted to the rights holders account.” despite us not having any interest in the project, accounts on the site, or crypto wallets to be paid in.
We think NFTs are a bad deal for everyone involved except those running schemes like these – although HitPiece claims the way they’re structured negates some of the massive environmental waste posed by cryptocurrencies, it’s still an attempt to get people to pour money into massively volatile digital assets, in a marketplace rife with scams, hype and low-quality offerings. Some artists win, but as Aaron Fahy – an artist we’ve worked with in the past – put it well in a recent statement claiming any good they can do is being overshadowed by the negative aspects.
We agree that streaming platforms don’t offer a fair deal to artists but the idea that selling someone the “ownership” of an ID that points at Spotify – that will cease to work if we choose to leave Spotify, that was made without our permission, that promises customers things we won’t offer – is just an insult.
HitPiece claims to be acting in our interest by offering us a new source of revenue. It’s not a problem we asked them to solve. We sell our music on Bandcamp, we put on gigs, we sell merch and cassette tapes – even just a few weeks ago we tried out putting our music on a new, Irish-owned streaming platform called Minm that promises a fair cut of their income. There’s better ways around this.”
HitPiece have since responded online with a less than impressive statement saying, “Clearly we have struck a nerve and are very eager to create the ideal experience for music fans. To be clear, artists get paid when digital goods are sold on HitPiece. Like all beta products, we are continuing to listen to all user feedback and are committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of the artists labels, and fans alike”.
Their website has since been taken down, but it’s yet to be seen what the legal percussions are for minting musician’s work without their permission.
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